It is not yet campaign season but it surely feels like one. Pages are now devoted to election related news. Social media is filled with information that are true, partly true, or utterly false disguising as truth. Surveys, whether credible or not, are now done to feel the pulse of the nation. And the conversations off and online revolve around a candidate’s potshot regarding another candidate’s looks, past careers, and even marital affairs.
These topics may be fodder for gossip and entertainment columns, and people love to listen to them, but the time must come that candidates talk about issues and their platforms. In fact, one presidential candidate even said that this election should be a referendum on how we proceed as a nation post-pandemic, not a proxy battle between two families.
Campaigning, in its essence, is bringing in people to your fold. It is not about ostracizing a group who may have a different point of view. It is also about letting people know where you stand on specific issues—and our country has a long list of issues that needs the decision of a president.
On the domestic front, the primary issue must be the country’s post-pandemic recovery. Come noon of June 30, 2022, the virus may still be in the air and the next president may take the oath of office with a face shield on. So the most important thing to demand to the presidential candidates, or any other candidates in national posts, is a clear, concise, and commanding vision on how we can all move forward. What happens when there is another virus outbreak? The next president should be decisive enough to balance the health of the people and the welfare of the economy. Strict lockdowns may be effective at the onset of the pandemic, but it may not be for the greater good to impose them again after the devastating and irreversible damage to the business sector.
The issue on the pandemic may be primordial but it is just the tip of an iceberg. Below the tip is a plethora of issues ranging from human rights, peace and order, environmental protection, to wage increase, education reform, and overpopulation. A president may even weigh in on divorce. We have to talk about these sensitive and “boring” topics—and know where a candidate stands—because these would have an impact on our lives. A candidates’ accent, for example, has nothing to do with our future.
The domestic agenda is just the start. There is the international stage where the next president must present our country’s stand on a host of pressing issues such as the West Philippine Sea, welfare of OFWs, or the Paris Climate Agreement.
This early, we have to ask—or demand—the platform of our candidates. Doing so will keep us informed and allow us to make a wise judgment on Election Day. If we elect the wrong candidates because we were just enamored with their antics and impressed with their fantasy statements, then there is no turning back from the horror of a post-pandemic catastrophe.